By Mason Moore
The Texas State Bobcats defeated the Georgia State Panthers 37-34 in an exciting triple overtime game Saturday. Joshua Rowland kicked the first game-winner of his career to give the Bobcats their first win of the season and of conference play. On a sunny afternoon in the Texas Hill Country, sky divers flew down displaying different flags, and the Bobcat band followed that by displaying different words and images getting the 15,803 in attendance ready for the game of their lives, and a game of their lives it was.
The Bobcats kicked off first to begin conference play for the season. After two plays, the Panthers faced the first third down of the game, and with quarterback Dan Ellington rolling to his right Bobcat corner Jarron Morris intercepts the pass attempt. After a quick Bobcat 3-and-out, senior kicker and Texas transfer Rowland was able to drill a 45-yard field goal to put the Bobcats up early, 3-0.
After a touchback, the Panthers were able to go the distance for a time consuming 65-yard scoring drive ending with a 17-yard passing touchdown from Ellington to sophomore receiver Cornelius McCoy. The extra point by senior Brandon Wright made the score 7-3 in favor of the Panthers.
After a Bobcat and Panther 3-and-out, the Bobcats were able to get something going with subsequent successful runs by junior running back Caleb Twyford. This, however, was eventually stopped by the Panthers defense causing the Bobcats to punt. After a misplay of the ball on the punt by the Panthers, sophomore Javen Banks was able to recover the ball in the endzone for a Bobcat touchdown, putting the Bobcats back on top 10-7.
The Panthers had the ball to end the first quarter, and when faced with fourth-and-3 to begin the second, the Panthers elected to go for it from the Bobcat 31-yard line. An overthrown ball by Ellington resulted in a turnover on downs for the Bobcats. They were only able to march the ball down 20 yards until the Panthers forced a punt.
The following 73-yard Panther drive, which included a 15-yard rush by Ellington to put the Panthers on the 5-yard line, was capped off by a touchdown throw by Ellington to junior tight end Aubry Payne, to put the Panthers ahead 14-10.
The Bobcats were ready to hit back. They drove the ball 75-yards off 15 plays with the help of senior running back Anthony D. Taylor making multiple positive runs. After an illegal substitution call on Georgia State, the Bobcats had the ball on the 3-yard line. Taylor was able to punch the ball in for a rushing touchdown with just under four minutes left in the half to bring the score to 17-14 Bobcats.
The Panthers were able to drive the ball up the field quickly, but the Bobcat defense was able to hold them to fourth down deep Bobcat territory, causing Georgia State to kick a 37-yard field goal as the clock hit zeroes on the half, tying the game at 17.
Freshman receiver Jah’Marae Sheread collected the second half kickoff, then catches the ball on four out of the next six plays to help the Bobcats drive the ball down on their opening drive. After the Bobcats are faced with a fourth and two from their opponents 7-yard line, the Panthers defense was able to stop them on fourth down; getting the ball for the first time of the half deep in their own territory.
The Panthers were unable to dig themselves out, and the ensuing punt was fair caught at midfield. The Bobcats used this great field position in their favor. Junior quarterback Gresch Jenson hit senior receiver Mason Hays for a huge gain on third down to bring the Bobcats to the red-zone yet again. The Bobcats did not break through, causing a fourth down. The 34-yard field goal attempt by Rowland was good, breaking the tie to put the Bobcats up 20-17 midway through the third quarter.
Following a 44-yard carry by Panther running back Destin Coates, they were threatening to score when a mistake on the handoff by Ellington caused a fumble which was recovered by senior linebacker Nikolas Daniels to give the Bobcats the ball back on their own six with just under two minutes left in the third quarter.
The Bobcats were unable to make something happen off the big play and the fourth quarter begins with a Texas State punt. The Panthers were able to capitalize; driving the ball down the field 56 yards and eating up 6:47 off the clock, ending with a 7-yard rushing touchdown by Coates, putting the Panthers back on top 24-20.
A huge 17-yard quarterback keep on first and twenty by Jenson and a face-mask penalty set the Bobcats up in Panthers territory. A 20-yard touchdown run by Taylor, his second, put the Bobcats up late in the fourth, 27-24. But this game was far from over.
The Panthers drove the ball down to get in the red-zone with time running out after a run play that was stopped short of the goal line by the Bobcat defense. Ellington rushed up to the line to spike the ball with what seemed to be zero seconds left in regulation. The Bobcats rushed the field and fireworks were lit, only for the spike to be reviewed and eventually overturned; putting a second back on the clock. The ensuing field goal tied the game yet again at 27 and sent the game to its first overtime.
The Bobcats won the toss and elected to defend first. The Panthers got the ball and scored with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Ellington to freshman receiver Sam Pickney to go up on the Bobcats 34-27. The Bobcats answered back after a passing interference call on fourth down gave them field position on the 2-yard line. Jensen scored on a 2-yard rush knotting the game back up at 34.
The second overtime saw both teams being forced to kick field goals, and both teams coming up short, sending the game to its third and final overtime. After the Bobcats were able to force another field goal miss by the Panthers, and being forced to kick a field goal themselves, Rowland drills the kick from 35 yards away, ending the game and sending Bobcats players back on the field, this time for the win.
Featured image courtesy of Texas State Athletics.